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Helping Families End The Fight

Can You Rebuild Trust After Infidelity?

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We break trust when we are not completely honest with ourselves and the other person.

Trust is said to be something we earn and if we are completely honest, some of us trust way too easily while others, jaded by broken promises trust way too little. Trust is the backbone of an intimate and loving relationship.

Intimacy can not occur without it.

So what do we do when our trust is broken? Is there any recovering from a breach of trust? The answer is yes, there can be and certain conditions will need to be met in order to rebuild trust when it has been eroded.

trust after infidelity

Breaking Trust

How does one “break” trust?

In relationships, we go to “cheating” as a way to break trust. However, just as there are many ways to “cheat”, there are countless ways to break trust.

In essence, any time we fail to do something we say we are going to do, we eroded trust. Any time we do something we said we would not do, we erode trust. Any time we act in a way that feels unsafe to the other person we can erode trust.

Whether it is cheating, stealing, or simply not following through, we can break trust and these acts put immediate distance between us and our partner. 

Coming Back

Coming back from a breach of trust after infidelity can be a real challenge.

It demands action on both sides. The person who has broken trust will need to account for why they did it. What needs spoken or more likely unspoken were they fulfilling.

Why did they not share the need that led to the breach?

Both of you have work to do here. Their role is to first decide if they are still in and under what conditions. If they are still in, they will want to understand what led to the breach and how will things are different.

Both will need to let go and forgive themselves and one another on some level. 

Be Patient

Rebuilding trust after infidelity can be a slow process.

With the exception of sociopaths, people who break trust do it unconsciously first and rationalize it later. There are unconscious drives and motives that will be revealed if we are patient with one another.

Patience does not occur in a vacuum. It will be helpful to be in some form of the therapeutic process. 

Be Committed

Show your commitment by leaning into your relationship.

What was the basis of your relationship? What will you do should there be a recurrence? Where is it you both want to go in healing this breach? How far are you willing to go to achieve your shared vision and sense of purpose?

Be Transparent

Trust is typically broken as a result of not being completely honest, both with yourself and one another.

Every couple that has worked on infidelity with us has demonstrated this. When they were completely transparent, they were both dropping the ball in their relationship in some way.

Breaking trust doesn’t happen just because someone is dishonest. People break trust because something is missing. 

It is a relationship. In every relationship, both parties have responsibility. Both people will need to be “transparent” to heal it.

Letting Go

You probably heard this while looking for ways to regain trust after infidelity but, what are we letting go of, exactly?

Before we can forgive, we need to let go of the hurt, anger, and blame.

Yes, by all means, grieve the loss of trust, self-recrimination,  and all it represents.

Have the feelings and do so in a way that allows you both to move on. Set a date by which you will stop mourning. Up to that date, give yourself time to really have the hurt, blame, and anger.

Allow yourself the catharsis of truly experiencing it from your perspective. Then? Be done with it. Life is too short after all. 

Forgiving After Infidelity

Once you are willing to let go, you are ready for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is NOT making the breach OK. It does NOT make trust-breaking right.

It is about accepting that we are all human and therefore unfolding. It’s about allowing yourself to hope and believe that you have both learned and grown from the process. Learn that there can be things after infidelity, as it can be but another stone in the road.

That there is real regret and repentance as well as a desire to move towards a new, better, compelling future together. 

Set Boundaries

Boundaries are what we set so that we feel safe.

Do not attempt to control the other person by setting boundaries. 

A boundary that is fairly common is “should this happen again, here is what you can expect…” for example. This is not a threat or a manipulation.

We are promising ourselves that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. 

Respect One Another

Building trust after infidelity is not a one-day thing.

It is easy to slip into a pattern of feeling guilty even after a commitment to staying together. It is also easy to bring the incident up in moments of anger. 

DON’T. 

Show one another mutual respect and respect ourselves enough to not slip into those emotional spaces. When we truly let go and forgive, we no longer need to lean into those kinds of feelings. 

The road back to trust may be slow and even feel torturous at times. When we truly love one another and follow the steps above, it will be worthwhile.

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